Democrats Michael Dukakis and Jesse Jackson were holding their first face-to-face talk Tuesday since Dukakis wrapped up the party's presidential nomination two weeks ago. Republican George Bush, meanwhile, said it "burns me up" when politicians fail to credit federal drug agents for a job well done.
Meanwhile, a poll published Tuesday in The Washington Post suggested Dukakis holds a double-digit lead over Bush. Several other surveys in recent weeks have turned up similar results.The vice president was highlighting drug issues Tuesday for the second day in a row, meeting with narcotics-interdiction officials and holding talks with drug advisers. On Monday, he attended a memorial service for three Drug Enforcement Administration agents killed in the line of duty.
"In this political season I hear comments from people of both parties giving no credit to all the job the men and women in this room and across the country are doing," Bush told agency employees. "It burns me up."
The vice president, the all-but-certain Republican nominee, has come under frequent fire from both Dukakis and Jackson over what they describe as a failed anti-drug effort by the administration.
The vice president took the opportunity to repeat his call for the death penalty for drug kingpins. Dukakis opposes the death penalty under any circumstances.
The Massachusetts governor has been on the defensive on law-and-order isues in recent days. Bush has attacked him over a Massachusetts prison program, now revised, which allowed murderers serving life sentences to go out on furloughs. One murderer out on a Massachusetts furlough raped a Maryland woman, prompting the change.
"I know of no responsible corrections program in the country, with very few exceptions, that does not include furloughs," Dukakis said.
Both Dukakis and Jackson were to be in California Tuesday, and aides said they would meet later in the day.